“Faith healing” has a bad reputation. When we think of faith healing today, perhaps our thoughts go to the people who hold special healing services, promising that God will bring healing because they are the ones leading it. Then there are the faith healers who love you enough to send a healing prayer cloth…if you send them enough money. Interestingly enough, the scientific community has recently come to understand the power of prayer as part of the healing process. They are doing studies on the effects of prayer and relaxation therapies on patients because they began seeing a correlation between the healing rate of people who go to church or show themselves to be religious in some way and those who don’t as noted by studies from Yale, Dartmouth, and Duke.
None of those involved in the studies would say that medical services should be withheld. What they would say is that the physical benefits of prayer, meditation, and relaxation help the body to heal faster. The idea of pure faith healing is still not accepted by scientists in general. While we could have a debate with those scientists on the possibility of faith healing, I’m just happy that they recognize the value of prayer in healing. Jesus, though, when He walked on earth could have turned His ministry into a pure physical healing ministry. He was doing much more than that, though. Peter and John ran into a beggar who couldn’t walk by the Temple gates and, instead of giving him silver or gold, healed him so that he could walk and leap as he headed into the Temple to praise God. When questioned about the situation, Peter and John focused on Jesus. “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.” (Acts 3:16)
We see a lot of healing in the ministry of Jesus and in the ministry of the early church. Some would say that God healed back then because they didn’t have the medical facilities we have now. Since we don’t need miraculous healings now, we don’t have them. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that God is still God and that whether He works through modern scientific methods or through miraculous supernatural methods, all healing comes from Him. In the case of this story, the healing was immediate and it was visible. The people in the Temple had just walked past this guy while they were heading in. Some might have given alms and were wondering if they could get their shekels back. Peter focused the attention where it belonged – on Jesus. The faith in Jesus that healed the man was not necessarily the man’s faith, it was the faith of Peter and John acting in response to a prompting of the Holy Spirit. You might be able to guess that the man that was healed started having faith though.
Peter’s message in response to the crowd’s reaction drew everyone’s attention to Jesus. It was faith in Jesus, the Jesus that the crowd had rejected and delivered to the cross, the Jesus who rose from the dead, that brought healing. Then, Peter offered a message of hope and reconciliation: God would forgive them if they would repent and turn back to God. That same message of reconciliation should ring out in the churches today. If God would offer forgiveness to those who crucified Jesus, what sin could anyone commit today that would put them beyond the reach of the forgiveness of God? There is no such sin. While we still need to remember the horrible, devastating effects of sin, while we still need to deal with the evil of sin; we must focus on the mercy and forgiveness of God to those who are trapped. Great teaching about sin and its evils will not change people: only the mercy and grace of God can do that. In short, sin is bad but God’s mercy is so much stronger.
Oh Lord, I see so many people trapped in the devastation caused by sin. I pray that they might come to You to receive mercy and grace; that they might accept the forgiveness that You offer to all in Jesus Christ.